PSA: cover your mouth when you cough

It is officially summer. Or, at least, it’s officially summer vacation. The kids have finished their exams, Paige has been moved out of the dorm and is home (hooray!), and our house finally feels right again. Which basically means it’s messy and noisy and there is a lot of laundry. 
Paige has only been home a few days, and she arrived home sick – thanks to a suitemate who got sick and didn’t believe in covering her mouth when she coughed. I think that qualifies her to proceed to a special spot on my s*#% list, alongside those parents who send their kids to school sick, infecting everyone else, and then brag about how their children have “perfect attendance.” 😒 Oh, don’t get me started! 

Anyway. Due to Paige’s sniffling, coughing misery, we haven’t done much besides a whole lot of laundry and trying to organize the piles of dorm detritus that ended up back in our house. We’ve also taken a few walks on the beach and squeezed in a visit with my refugee family at the Riverside Arts Market.

   
    
    
 
 

  
Clay has also finished his exams and his research presentation. He has about a week off before his summer classes begin, so we are hoping to take a quick family trip next week for a few days of relaxation and family bonding. 

I can’t wait. 

   
Clay’s research project presentation at Flagler College

   
   Flagler College is beautiful!

  

  

  

  

Out like a lamb…

The past few weeks have been busy. We’ve been house hunting, for starters. I’m astounded at how some people live. I admit to secretly sort of enjoying walking through stranger’s homes, silently criticizing or admiring their decorating choices, and getting a glimpse into other people’s lives. The inventory of homes here, in our price range, is quite limited so it is a bit of a seller’s market. Even so, it is amazing how many people have simply listed their messy homes…it doesn’t appear that there has been much, if any, sprucing up of the homes. As for cleaning…? Ugh. Just…ugh. (Seriously – how do people even live like that? Much less let strangers walk through their homes and see that they live like that?! Houses stinking of dog, mold in showers, stuff…everywhere?) 

We are hoping that as the weather warms up more houses will appear in MLS. Because right now there is nothing. At least nothing that will work. 

I spent one day last week driving my refugee family around the area. They live in the middle of Jacksonville and had not had a chance to see much of the city. It was a beautiful day, so we drove east and stopped at the beach. They loved it. Obviously, the beach is a completely new experience for them (Afghanistan isn’t really known for its beaches 😏). They were able to FaceTime their family in Afghanistan and share the experience with them, which was kind of fun. Afterwards, we had a lovely lunch and then drove around St. Augustine before stopping at the store and heading home. 

   
   
Paige came home for Easter last weekend and it was so nice to relax with the kids and spend time together. One more month until they’re both done with final exams and home for the summer. I can’t wait! 

   
    
 

Spring Break…and a refugee family

 We had a wonderful week with Paige when she was home for spring break last week. We shopped, and had beach days, and pool days, and got our hair done. We had family Boston Legal marathons and she slept…a lot…and cuddled with Jack, and read, and just relaxed. 

 

    
  
  


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In other news, I’ve met with “my” refugee family a couple of times and I just adore them. They are the sweetest, most humble, adorable family. The father speaks perfect, fluent English (which definitely makes things a lot easier!). The mom only speaks a few words of English, so far, but is so sweet and smiles so much…between hand gestures and her husband, we are communicating just fine. The little girl is cute, and giggly and twirls and skips, and the baby…oh my goodness. That baby is a chubby little smiling machine. 

On my first visit, I went with someone from World Relief, and it was just a short visit to meet them and set up a schedule for meetings. I brought them a gift basket filled with towels and cleaning supplies and a fruit bowl, and teething rings for the baby and coloring books, and reading books, and sidewalk chalk and bubbles for the little girl.

  
Yesterday, I sat and talked to them for an hour and half. We talked about how they are settling in, and what help they will need. I brought a driver’s license handbook for the dad to study as he is determined to get a driver’s license as soon as possible. (He already has an international license.) He is trying to find a job. He wants to be self sufficient and to be able to provide for his family. He is excited about living in America and exploring his new country and seeing the things he has heard and read about. He can’t wait to become a citizen. He worries about their families back home in Afghanistan, especially his mother. 

They are human beings. They are just like you and I. They have the same dreams and fears that everyone does. They are a beautiful, young family of four living in a tiny, albeit spotlessly clean, one bedroom apartment. They are tremendously grateful for the opportunities they have been given. They are optimistic. Of course, they are worried – they are living in a new country thousands of miles from everything and everyone they have known. They must learn not only a new language, but new customs as well. It can be frustrating. But they are optimistic. 

So am I. 

I try to tune out the hateful rhetoric that certain orange hued politicians bombastically trumpet to the masses. I try to ignore the increasingly xenophobic, racist, and misogynistic tones of our country lately. I am focusing on what is good about America, and there is much that is good. In fact, there is much that is great. Starting with my little family and their hope and optimism and love. We are a nation of immigrants and refugees. We are a nation of second chances. I want to believe that there is more optimism and hope and love than there is of hate and bigotry. I must believe that. 

* I cannot give specific details about my family, but I can share these links which may give you a bit of insight into what they have experienced…

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sarah-wayne-callies/two-afghan-refugees_b_9354320.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/23/afghan-iraq-interpreters-siv_n_3481555.html

Alone again, naturally

Clay is back at his apartment, working almost every evening and has been doing sampling and getting ready for classes for start back up next week. Tim is back at work. And yesterday Paige headed back to Tallahassee for her spring semester at FSU. We tried to cram as much family time as we could into these last few days…the kids spent time together on the beach while I was making Hoppin’ John on New Year’s Day, and we watched movies, and Tim enforced family bonding time via “car washing/waxing togetherness,” and we took walks on the beach and found lots of shark’s teeth, and Paige snuggled with Jack, and she and I binge watched Nashville and Boston Legal…

   
    
    
    
    
   
But eventually the day came when I had to say goodbye. And the once full house is empty once more. 

   
    
    
 

 

   
 
  
It’s quiet now. I made the mistake of going up to Paige’s room to clean, which just made me sad. So I decided to take a pajama day and snuggled under warm blankets and read and drank hot tea because it was freezing out (okay, okay, it was in the 50’s. But my toes were cold.💁🏻) and I didn’t feel like going out. 

Today, I’m trying to clean a bit. And do some organizing. Although…honestly, my fuzzy, warm blanket is looking very inviting. And a cup of hot tea sounds really good…

Thankful

We had a wonderful, relaxing (mostly) Thanksgiving. 

It was so great to have both kids home, and to have the whole family together again. We didn’t do anything very exciting – I think the kids were worn out, and were just mentally psyching themselves up for final exams – but just hanging out together felt like such a treat to me. 

Paige got home Tuesday and Wednesday woke up to get her hair cut and found that her car was dead. So that was kind of a bummer but also kind of a lucky break (that the battery died while she was home rather than at school, or driving home the day before!) it made for a bit of a hectic day with getting the battery (special battery for hybrid car) ordered and installed and running around getting last minute food items, but we got it all done. 

  
  
Clay wasn’t really feeling the whole school thing, apparently…

After getting her haircut and picking up her car, Paige had a reunion with her BFF, whom she hadn’t seen since last summer!

   
    
   
And then we just did a whole lot of nothing. 

The kids took a walk on the beach while I cooked. Paige bonded with Jack. The kids did a bit of studying and a lot of playing around on the Internet. We all read. 

It was just quiet and peaceful and…perfect. 

   
   
   
    
    
    
   
Sadly, Clay had to go back to work on Saturday and worked double shifts both days and Paige had to head back to Tallahassee on Sunday…but we finished the weekend on a perfect note, with a 27-2 victory over the University of Florida. Go ‘Noles!

   
 

College Life

As our kids navigate their way through college and the beginning of their lives as adults, Tim and I find ourselves more and more in an awkward sort of gray area, where we are almost observers…hovering, nervous observers. It’s strange. For so long, we’ve been such active participants in their lives…driving carpools, chaperoning field trips, attending parent-teacher conferences, overseeing homework, driving to and from dance and soccer and taekwondo and gymnastics and piano and art lessons, and hosting sleepovers and birthday parties, and making sure chores got done and teeth were brushed and beds were made. 

And now, suddenly, we are obsolete.  Well, mostly. We still have to write the tuition checks, of course. And occasionally we are still needed for advice. But for the most part, the kids are living their lives and doing a fine job of it, on their own. I know that that means we did our job as their parents well. 

But, as I said, it sort of leaves us on the outside looking in. Which feels really strange. 

Thank goodness for social media and the technology of today that allows me glimpses into their lives. 

A few weeks ago Clay was asked to participate in a video that Flagler College was making for its donors. Here’s the video.
   
    
    
    
   
  
And Paige…

   
 
Paige was an extra in a movie that a friend in the film school was filming. 

   
 
  

   
   

The texting, instagrammng, tweeting, snap chatting Family.  

When you are the parent of a teenager or young adult these days, you have to learn to embrace technology in order to communicate with your offspring. 

Kids these days text, and snapchat, and tweet, and Instagram their lives. In many ways, it’s awful, I agree. But, truthfully, in many ways it’s also quite wonderful. My kids have to pick up the phone and call and talk to me nice a week. It’s a requirement. I don’t care if it’s FaceTime or Skype or a regular old phone call; if they want us to continue to pay tuition, etc. then I must hear their voice once a week. It’s the rule (and it works for me.)

But, the rest of this stuff? I quite like getting glimpses into the lives of my two college kids. I enjoy the fact that they send me little text messages or snapchats throughout the day – they never fail to bring a smile to my face. It’s always nice to know that they’re thinking about us. 

Whether it’s random stuff from Paige in Tallahassee…

   

  

  

Or from Clay in St. Augustine…

   
   
They make me happy. 

And informed. Would Paige remember to tell me that her French teacher keeps weird office hours the next time we talked? Or that mature college kids were drawing…uh, naughty things in the elevator? Probably not. 

And, of course, I learned that she and her suitemate went to see Rocky Horror Picture Show the other night. And that she went to the football game with a group of friends dressed as minions, and went out that evening dressed as Wednesday Addams. 

   
    
  
    
    
    
    
    
   
More random communications:

   
    
    
 
Luckily, Clay is close enough that we actually see him about once a week. Usually…

   
   

But, as nice as these glimpses into the kid’s lives are, I can’t wait until Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks when I’ll get to have my whole family together and under one roof again. 

Pictures and texts and snapchats are nice. They help. But I miss my kids, and having a full house, and the noise and messiness of a family. 

Happy Days

Clay got home from camp a week ago and has been busy settling back into his off campus house (which is only about 15-20 minutes away from our new house…) and catching up with his roommate. He’s also been doing some fun projects with one of his professors – he spent one day out on a boat in the inlet observing and counting dolphins. He’s managed to sneak in some fishing here and there as well, and he’s been keeping us supplied with fresh flounder!

He had a great summer at camp and can’t wait to go back next year. 

   
    
    
    
    
   
And now, Paige is home too. We picked her up a few days ago and shuttled most of her stuff back with us…only to have to do it all in reverse in another 10 days or so to move her back into her fall dorm. She was very happy she decided to start with summer session – she learned her way, mostly, around campus and got comfortable with a new routine without the hordes that will be there in a few weeks. But she’s quite happy it’s over and that she has a couple of weeks to relax. She’s especially happy that the roommates will be changing. She didn’t have a great roommate experience over the summer…but her fall roommate is wonderful! She’s very excited about fall, and her classes (as a side note, she is only 2 credits away from being a sophomore!), and football games (Go ‘Noles!), and making new friends. 

   
   
    
I’m so happy to have both my kids around for a couple of weeks. I’m so proud of them, both….but I sure do miss them when they’re gone! 

I know this time is going to fly by, though. We are going to be busy scheduling hair appointments and doctor appointments and making sure everything is ready for the dorm (cold medicine? Check. BandAids? Check….) but we’re trying to schedule a little down time as well.